Whenever I work, live, or travel outside of America, I notice many differences from country to country. I mean, obviously, I notice whether I’m cooking on an electric stovetop or peeling an unidentifiable edible to cook over an outdoor fire in the middle of rice fields. But so it goes for underdeveloped countries…well, what about Malta, I asked myself? Part of the European Union since 2004, I figured it would be a mix of countryside and vibrant city life. It is, but it’s also a unique mix of somewhat recent technology mixed with centuries-old practices. A lot of folks don’t change. Fisherman still go out in their little boats. Older men walk around barefoot on rocky cliffs. Women dress up in their pearls and I-can’t-believe-people-still-wear-horrific-curtain-print-dresses-this-eepin’-bad‘dos. Guys go out with their guns and sit in tiny shacks all day to shoot tiny birds. It’s such an odd little country when you step outside of the city that you can get lost trying to figure out why things are done the way they’re done, but you’re better off just accepting it. So while I’ve had almost no free time to write on this site, I have been taking quite a few photos for work and studying the differences between Malta and other parts of the world. A few of those thoughts, along with non-related photos, are posted here.
In other parts of the world, there are unique foods people eat as part of their diet. Locusts, snake, unicorns, dog, you name it.
In Malta, they go to the horse races and then eat ‘em. I mean, not necessarily in that order. Is that why there are fewer and fewer horses racing every year? Anywho, horse meat is very popular. Tastes like jumbo chicken.
In other parts of the word, the “illegals” are commonly referred to in a derogatory manner, and range from Mexicans and Colombians (USA) to Indonesians (Malaysia) and everywhere in between.
In Malta, the “illegals” are referred to in the same way, but are usually Ethiopians, Libyans, or Tunisians. In the two months I’ve been here, I think every single immigrant has stared at me, wondering how albino I am in such a sun-drenched country. They also, I suspect, want to make me their 3rd wife.
In other parts of the world, prescriptions are (somewhat) strictly monitored so that medicines and necessary drugs are doled out appropriately.
In Malta, where I had to extend the meds for my Lyme Disease/random Asian life infection, I can walk into a pharmacy with my old prescription bottle and sweet-talk my way into getting more of my cold, hard drugs. Or really, I just show the bottle, have them see I’m not an (obvious) drug abuser, and get my medication. It’s fine, too, because it’s for my own use. I did get tangled up in a gang here in the midst of all this, but they’re super nice people as long as I kill off anyone onto us. So far that’s only happened around 17 times, so no biggie.
In other parts of the world, there are bussed tour groups of (almost always) Japanese tourists with their incredibly expensive cameras whipped out every time a squirrel appears.
In Malta, instead of leading Japanese folks on tours, they lead dead people. I mean, they’re not actually dead yet, but they might as well have been. On the last tour group I saw yesterday, as far as the eyes could squint was a sea full of the eldest of the old, and some could barely stand with their full weight on their canes. I’m quite sure that by the end of the day, a few remained in their bus seats. Permanently.
In other parts of the world, men use cat-calls, whistles, stares, and catchy opening taglines such as, “Are you married?” to hit things off.
In Malta, old men who are 4’ tall are your constant source of amusement. The conversations go exactly like this:
(Scene: I’m walking along a street and an old man pulls up in his truck)
Old man: Where are you going?
Naïve me: Oh, just walking, thank you.
Old man: You’re going…?
Naïve me: Just walking to my home!
(I smile and pray he drives off. He does.)
(Scene, 2 minutes later, same old man driving in the opposite direction. Pulls up and halts traffic.)
Old man: I’m sorry I didn’t offer you a ride.
Naïve me: Oh, no problem, I’m right near my house.
Old man: Well do you want a drive?
Naïve me: That’s very kind of you but I’m just five minutes away.
Old man: No, I mean, do you want to go for a drive somewhere? Around…?
Naïve me: Thank you but I must be getting home and packing.
(Runs like never before.)
Oh, and how did I know he was 4’ tall? Because just 2 hours prior to this incident, another old man (literally 4’ tall) had found me AGAIN (oh yes, he’d already taken me and a friend out for drinks, then cornered us just a few days before) while I was sitting alone in a park with a view. I mean, crikes, I’m on an island with 30,000+ people, and the same old man finds me? Anyhow, the truck driver looked like this guy’s brother, so by association, I’ll assume he was also 4’ tall. Age? Both were approaching 70. I know I’m old, but must I be hit on by senior citizens? I think they belong on bus tours at that age.
I’m wicked tired since I recently got back from working on the Maltese island of Gozo (photos to come sooner rather than later) and haven’t had a day to…well, catch up on sleep. In the past 30 hours, for example, I worked, felt ill, went out to dinner where snails, horse, rabbit, quail, and cheese pie were served, hung out with a former professional clown, woke up at 2:30 to measure and document dead sharks at the country’s fish market, drove out to the salt pans to catch the sunrise at 6 something a.m., filmed and photographed around the capital city and small villages, slept a wee bit, worked, went out for free food with friends, and crashed around 4a.m. this morning. No, life is not boring here. I need sleep. Enjoy the photos.